the debates and the official closing arguments. i find myself agreeing, but narrowly, with newt gingrich here. let's embrace the essence of the lincoln douglas senate debates of 1858, the democratic spirit of two candidates facing off with 90 minutes, no moderator, freely open to the populous to decide who wins the war of ideas. aren't the presidential dae baits when we test the mettle of each side's convictions and the substance of their policy. this has become an ideologically driven election. no longer referendum on foreign wars or economic failings, this is a choice of doctrine and of direction. so perhaps that's why i don't mind sharing a little political science secret with you. although the debates routinely draw large viewing audiences, evidence shows that voters do learn a little bit of information from them, but political scientists also tend to agree that debates don't actually make a difference in the outcome. sorry. it's at least statistically true. most often, you can accurately predict where a race will end up after the debates by knowing where things stood before the debates.